Lucy Van Pelt loves the beautiful sound of clinking nickels. She wants real estate for Christmas.
Snoopy challenges passersby to find the true meaning of Christmas by winning “money, money, money” in his “spectacular super colossal neighborhood Christmas lights and display contest.”
For her part, Sally Brown forgoes her lengthy list of gifts, asking Santa instead for cash — tens and twenties. You know, to make things easy. All she wants is what she has coming to her. All she wants is her fair share.
This doesn’t help Charlie Brown’s depression.
Nor do the grandiose material expressions of the holiday season –beginning as soon as our Halloween candy bowl runneth empty – help ours if we think too long about them.
Charlie Brown, wrought with insecurity and doubt, laments the commercialization of the season. More than that, though, his isolation stands out, sadness because he feels so alone amidst it all. “I know nobody likes me,” he says. “Why do we have to have a holiday season to emphasize it?”
So begins A Charlie Brown Christmas, the boy’s journey from despondency to hope. And despite the TV special airing in 1965, there is some relevance all these years later. Some of us, like Charlie, feel like our basic understanding of the season – giving, receiving, relative levels of joy – lies in contrast to popular culture’s rendition of it. Some of us, like Lucy, have embraced the latter rather than bemoan it – she prefers pink aluminum trees, and she’s not upset by it. Some of us are Snoopy opportunists. And plenty of us, to be sure, are like Linus, whose purist perspective can’t be fazed by all the noise. The resulting emotional schizophrenia is staggering, if predictable.
There’s loneliness and companionship, joy and despair, truth-seeking and blithe celebration, all during what’s marketed to be the most wonderful time of the year. Your interpretation of the season begets your holiday spirit, whatever version it may be – bah humbug and good tidings. It’s little surprise then that Charlie Brown’s soundtrack, as well as our own, is something just as introspective and shifting. Something like jazz.